‘One of our key pillars in the last few years was building player depth and we are excited about the talent available to us this season.’
There’s excitement about the future of the Springboks after the coaching staff, led by Rassie Erasmus, was confirmed this week.
The head of the Boks’ brains trust, Erasmus, is tasked with building a team that will aim to win a fifth Webb Ellis Cup trophy and third in a row, following the triumphs in 2019 and 2023.
Key to that is building squad depth, breeding in new players and keeping the core that did the job in France last year.
“One of our key pillars in the last few years was building player depth and we are excited about the talent available to us this season,” said Erasmus this week.
The Citizen looks at a few players that Erasmus might bring into the Springboks set-up this year to be part of the team in the four-year cycle leading to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Andre-Hugo Venter (hooker)
Venter is experiencing his coming-of-age season at the Stormers, and is enjoying quality game time in the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup. His performances this season have seen him become the best hooker in South Africa.
Venter has an unbelievable work rate and does the basics of a hooker well. Roping him in early in the year will allow the Boks to groom him for the future.
Asenathi Ntlabakanye (prop)
The 150kg tighthead prop is a player the Springboks need to have in their system. Ntlabakanye has done well in recent seasons and he has shown that he is much more than just a huge frame.
He is solid at scrum time, a powerful ball carrier and very physical. His fitness and body conditioning have been good, showing he wants to meet the conditioning requirements to play Test rugby. An introduction to the Boks will do a lot of good for his development.
Sanele Nohamba (utility back)
New Springboks attack coach Tony Brown will relish the prospects of working with a player of Nohamba’s skill set and versatility.
He has shown what he offers when playing at scrumhalf and flyhalf, with his versatility exactly what the Springboks want from a player. Nohamba’s game management has been impressive, too — he can open up defences, he kicks well for territory and the poles, and defensively he is not shy.
At the moment he’s letting his game do all the talking and the Boks will have taken notice.
Francke Horn (loose forward)
The Lions’ resurgence on the field has been led by Horn’s performances, even when the franchise was not doing well, his displays were telling.
The sort of leadership Horn showed with his performances on the field, make him an excellent prospective Springbok. The Springboks door should open sooner rather than later for Horn so he can be an understudy to the likes of Bok captain Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth.
Mpilo Gumede (loose forward)
Seeing how they have lacked muscle in their back row, the Sharks must be kicking themselves for letting go of Gumede.
The lanky forward has been an outstanding signing for the Bulls; he has delivered every time Jake White has given him an opportunity.
His explosiveness, power and soft passing skills have seen him become a regular fixture for the Bulls be it at No 7 or No 8. Gumede has all the tools of a Springbok loose forward.
Hacjivah Dayimani (loose forward)
This is probably the year that Dayimani kicks down the Springbok door after knocking on it for some time.
Rugby pundits previously ruled the loose forward out of Bok selection suggesting he doesn’t have the physical presence for international rugby, however, this season Dayimani has proved he has physicality to go with a game that breaks defences open.
Dayimani is different to the “normal” loose forward and should be embraced by the Springboks management.